Restaurant operators are still struggling to recover from steep drops in business as a result of the recession. After the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose above 100 in summer of 2010, it fell again during the fall. However, operators remain optimistic for the next 6 months. And casual-dining operators, in particular, will turn to specific marketing techniques to boost business.
Technomic analysts say the casual-dining segment accounts for more than 1/3rd of U.S. restaurant industry sales. Operators at the higher end of this segment were hit hard during the recession. In order to succeed, these restaurant owners will need to market specific value propositions. And they will also need to differentiate themselves. Technomic research indicates that consumers believe the offerings from one brand to another do not vary much. However, consumers perceive the upscale casual-dining segment to be a healthy alternative.
To attract consumers and emphasize value, casual dining operators will offer the following in the coming months:
- 70% of operators currently use coupons will continue this marketing strategy
- Operators will promote bar menus and meal combos
- Smaller portions and plates will be positioned to appeal to consumers looking for lower prices and healthier meal options
As the economy recovers, look for restaurants to use creative strategies and offerings to bring consumers back into the marketplace.[Source: Technomic Finds Consumers Want Clear Value Propositions, Differentiation from Casual-Dining Restaurants. Technomic. Com. 10 Jan. 2011. Web. 17 Jan. 2011]